I was there. It was a GREAT show. I didn't get to see any of division II
(damn parking was awful). So, I will start with the Troopers!
Troopers- After seeing their show last year, I felt sorry for them. This
year, they have made vast improvements. Their horn line is getting stronger,
and the percussion sounds much better. Good job!
Next up COLTS---- WOW. This show is probably top ten material. The guard is
great, and drill is amazing, and the percussion is doing very well. This
evening seemed to be full of falling horn lines..... Colts were the first one.
They had a mello fall during the percussion break. Nice recovery, though!
More than I can say for the Cadets! (more on that later) They had great horn
moments, very loud, and balanced. I actually had them a bit closer to Phantom
Phantom Regiment- Well, I loved the show. My only problem is that it didn't
have any moments that made me say "wow." It was very well designed, and the
guard is doing much better. The horn line was GREAT. They had great balance
and power. I didn't pay much attention to their percussion section.... I was
busy watching the horn line, doing some great drill. Their visual program was
very good, they just have some more cleaning to do in that aspect.
Blue Knights- Okay, I am biased. (at least I can admit it), but this years
show is great. The guard is doing wonderful things, and they once again had
the prettiest flags there. Percussion section is great. Ralph wrote a great
book for Trittico. No falling horn members here either!
Cadets- Okay, here is where it gets interesting. The opening statement was
GREAT.... awesome flag work and loud brass hits... then it all went downhill.
During their "death spiral" thingie, there was a major wreck.... one person
down, then two, three and then four.... There may have been five, but I
couldn't see them very well in a mangle of horns, shakos, and people. Two of
the players didn't recover until after the big halt and they started moving.
Otherwise, this was a great show. Would have been much better without the
falls.... ironically, that is all I can remember now. In the very end, they
had two more falls (seperated from each other, though)
Santa Clara- Loved this show. Great moments. Didn't care for the guard
uniforms, though. All I can say is, this show deserved to win.
BD- Okay, the guard is kicking some rear. That's all I have to say about BD.
No, just kidding! Percussion was awesome, and the horn line was okay. Seemed
like they had some phasing problems tonight, but maybe that's just me.
Sorry the reviews for SCV and BD are so short! It's late and I have to work
tomorrow! Well, I stayed for SCV's victory concert, of course! We got right
up in front, and got our ears blown off. They are LOUD. After they played
their show, they played Send In the Clowns. How emotional. I cried, and I
don't have anything to do with SCV. Great show. I only have one complaint....
the announcer SUCKED. I mean, really badly. He kept on talking straight
through corps on field warmups, and said some of the stupidest things I have
heard in a while.
Okay, I'm going to bed. This is the first time I have done this, so I hope I
didn;t do too badly (except for the part about not writing much for BD and SCV,
sorry!) Great show, congrats to the Blue Knights! Broke the 80!
A great night of drumcorps last night...great stadium, great weather (almost
The mile-high concessions people have a hell of a nerve...$3 for a 16oz soda
and NO lids/Straws!!
Chien Kuo high school band...from Taipei in the Republic of China - from an
elite (a student body of 10,000 is "elite"?) high school. Impressive when
you consider that almost all members have only 2 years of training.
Northern Lights - When they played loud, I wondered if this is what
drumcorps is going to sound like with concert key instruments. I didn't
care for the color guard uniforms. I just don't like seeing guys wear
tight body suits on the field. The only equipment I need to see is the
flags and rifles.
Cascades - strange show picked up toward the end. Some have called it an
"oil rig" , I think it looks like a cross between a tv antenna and the
Eiffel Tower. Horns put out some nice sounds but need to learn their
limits - I hear too much overblowing.
Allegiance Elite - A cute show based on "Bye Bye Birdie" which seems more
like a band show to me. A good band show, but a band show. They use wooden
cubes a la BD's dice with a telephone dial painted on them. I laughed
wondering how many of the members even remembered telephone dials! (then I
cried cause I do!)
Vanguard Cadets - I like this show, and this was SCVC's final appearance of
the year. I wish they would go to Madison, because last night there was
still a lot of cleaning left to do.
Troopers - This corps should be competing in Division II. It is neither a
loss of pride nor a source of embarassmen to have the corps compete where it
can do some damage. The classic Trooper's entry onto the field, from the
endzone, into a block along the 50, starts a show I really liked. "Billy
the Kid" is a story-telling show, and I think this corps does a good job.
Horns sometimes try to put out more sound than they can control, but there
are many parts which sound nice. There are a lot of nice visual elements,
and hopefully will be cleaned up for a good showing in Madison. For those
of you unfamiliar with the Orchestral piece, Billy the Kid has a looong
drawn out closer. I was wondering how they would handle it, and the
arrangement comes out really nice. They close with another block along the
50, however the mellophones are unwisely placed in front. This corps is a
personal favorite, rain or shine. I couldn't help but hold back the tears
during the sunburst. The drum major, in solid black, must be the best
dressed DM in drumcorps.
Colts - There is no way a corps this good isn't going to make finals. A
good look on the field, good but still unclean drill - especially towards
the end, and a very talented hornline make this show a winner. I think they
may be a bit too generous with the horn visuals. They have a good
colorguard and they make good use of it. The sound is very rich, powerful,
for the most part well balanced, and I like the music they play. I'm looking
forward to seeing this show cleaned up in Madison....on Saturday.
Phantom - hot and cold. The sound, for the most part, it pure Phantom.
However, there are moments when I can hear loss of control, loss of balance.
I think the show has lots of potential, but still a lot of work to be done.
The color guard is very good.
After the Blue Devils and before retreat (full corps), I went outside
for a smoke and some shopping. The stands were separated from the other
area by a series of narrow gates. A PR member and I approached the gate at
the same time. I back away and said "excuse me". He walked through the
gate and said "excuse yourself". It's really hard to want a group to do
well when something like happens and makes me want to say "happy 10th place,
asshole." Forgiveness is an act of grace (amazing grace?), so I will cheer
for them in Madison and hope they realize their potential. I know some of
you won't believe this happened, but I have no reason to lie.
Blue Knights - Very impressive. The hornline puts out a great sound, lots o
f volume with mostly good control. The color guard amazed me. They were using
these groovy psychedelic flags, kind of like something JoAnne Worley would wear
on "Laugh-In". I blinked or looked away for a split second and they had these
other really nice zig-zag flags. Did I miss something? I thought they moved
cleaner than the Cadets, and that the gap between the two should have been
Cadets - I loved this show. It really does have a New Yawk feel. The color
guard is amazing, and they look great in their dark blue. I'm really
looking forward to seeing it later. But what went wrong? Is there a lot of
new stuff in the show? An off night? The horn line sounded nice with lots
of power (the opening!! WOW!!), but I heard way to much overblowing, lack of
balance, and intonation problems. The corps did not move well tonight - at
the collapsing box there were 4 or 5 falls. There were phasing problems,
interval problems, lots and lots and lots of posture problems. The
placement and the gap in scores was correct.
Santa Clara Vanguard - magnificent. I hadn't seen the closing drill before,
and they repeat a collapsing box from Barber. Some might not like
repeating, but I think its a good way to close the show, and to get a 2nd
look at a great move. The new cg uniforms are not as ugly as I had feared,
the I prefer the black. They're still doing the dance steps during the
ballad, which some don't like. I think they're well done and appropriate to
the music. But let's give credit where credit is due - when they use
equipment, they did a hell of a job!! The drumline amazes me. The guys in
the cymbal line must be closer than brothers. The hornline puts out tons of
sound, and didn't lose balance or control of their sound quality. Someone
near me said a contra fell during the closing block, but I didn't see it.
Blue Devils - A close 2nd - I thought they might actually score a little
closer. The percussion opener is nice, but I'm still not sure about the
Ginasterra piece. The rest of the show just cooks. The horns sounded
great, and the color guard is just phenomenal. There is still some cleaning
to do in the drill.
They announced the names of all the judges, including a guard judge, but no
guard or any caption awards were given out. I did, however, get to watch
the Cadets Colorguard perform at retreat. It was quite annoying, and I
heard negative comments about it from people all around me. The massed
corps played "America/Oh Canada", then SCV gave an encore of their show and
This was a great show, and I thought every performance was enjoyable. My
prediction for Madison - I don't think SCV will have it easy, but I think
they have the package, the talent and the drive.
Don Davis / Long Beach, CA
Here are some lingering thoughts from DATR and earlier west coast shows (I
tend to remember more bad stuff than good stuff):
It was a beautiful evening for a show. Earlier in the evening there was
lightning and a strong threat of thunderstorms.
It was nice to see them alive. Their show was entertaining but noticable
weaker than the other Open Class corps.
I enjoyed their opener. It was a strong, fast, recognizable number. They
seemed to be pretty strong (good horn fullness) but not clean.
Right out of the gate the lower horns blew their opening entrance. Very bad
phasing on a powerful isolated attack. I like their opening number and their
closing number, but the middle of their show drags. Too many ballad and
mid-tempo numbers. Phantom still has very significant marching problems. I
do not expect to see them in the top 6 this year.
This is a tough one. I can appreciate that they are trying to present a
sophisticated show. It is clear that their show has depth and is well
executed. I just find it very dry. How does a Corp decide whether to go with
difficult, dry music in to hope of being taken seriously (and move to the
next level) or to entertain the audience (and unfairly get slotted in the
middle of the pack)?
I really enjoyed the unique sound of opening musical statement. I was also
enjoying a deluxe opening drill move ... until the train wreck. They were
doing a rapid spiral compression, when some of the inner people lost it. It
looked like 4 or five horns went down. It took so long for a couple of them
to recover that I thought they were hurt and were not getting back up. They
eventually did. It really hurt the beginning of their show. The drill was
designed to focus everyone's attention right on the spot where where the
kids went down.
I have to take a second to mention that I was extremely impressed by the
Cadet guard, particularly the rifle line, especially in the first half of
the show. They had some exciting moves, some hard moves, and were very
tight. In my opinion they stood out as a massive plus.
The rest of the show was standard Cadet stuff. Hard, well done for this time
in the season, but a little unexciting (from a jaded person's perspective).
Note worthy was an extended multi-tenor solo that was impressive and
Thing were going along and heading for a big finish when ... boom crash,
another train wreck. I couldn't help flashing back on Whitewater a decade
ago when the Cadets had a train wreck during the Z-pull and recieved a
perfect marching score. I was pretty sure they weren't going to get a
perfect 10 in marching this time.
I have to admit I was surprised by the 3 point spread. I figured the Cadet's
marching problem would account for no more than .5 max. I thought scores
were going to be a lot closer and I know they will be in the future. The
next week and a half will be very interesting. I don't think the politics
will let the gap last long. I wouldn't be surprised to see the gap close to
less than a point next show regardless of deserved scores.
It is hard to judge. I'm not an objective observer. I thought they were
musically tight and marched a difficult drill well. From the corner of my
eye, I did see a Contra get up after a fall, but it wasn't in a drill focal
point like the Cadet falls were. The Soprano soloist choked at the start of
the second number, but I don't think you could tell unless you knew the
I like Santa Clara's book a lot. I personally find it a lot of fun, except
for the ballad. I still find the ballad a little vanilla, although it is
starting to grow on me. I also have mixed feelings about the ballad's modern
dance guard work. When I first saw it last month, I liked it. I thought it
added forward energy to the number that was lacking in the music. However, I
am starting to have second thoughts. Maybe the negative comments of others
are getting to me.
I also don't have the problem other do with Blue Shades. I feel that the
song is a mix of straight and jazz interpretations, with the straight parts
providing a strong tie to the previous parts of the show and with the jazz
adding some fun.
What's up with their horn line? For the first time in years they sound
mortal. For the majority of the show they sound loud and full, but every
once in a while I hear an unsupported horn part that almost sounds like a
bottom six hornline. I don't have as much of a problem with the phasing
problems as I do with the balance problems. In several parts of the show the
articulated music lines are being buried beneath block chords.
At least they have solved the problem at the very start of the show where
the drum line was vastly over powering the hornline (which was playing back
field). The horn line no longer plays at the beginning of the show.
I like almost all of Blue Devils book, with the exception of the start of
the closer. I find the beginning of the closer a little too beep, boop for
I like the look of their drill. It is very open a readable compared to the
Cadets and SCV. However, it does not seem as difficult (cross throughs,
rapid shape changes, that sort of stuff). The guard is good, but I think the
Cadet guard may be better.
I'd like to make a point about caption awards. How much legitimacy is there
in awarding the brass and percussion awards based exclusively on the field
execution marks. Based on those marks BD won both captions by .1 , despite
the fact that SCV beat them by .4 in GE music and .5 in ensemble music. I
think from the crowd's perspective (ensemble and GE) the best horn line did
not win the horn caption. I don't disagree that the field horn score should
be a significant part of the award, but I think it is misleading to not work
in the upstairs marks.
By chance, I was seated directly next to Mike Bertram (see his DATR review
below) and his wife, and he pretty much said what I wanted to say. But I have a
few comments that I'll share.
First off, I want to say that I am SHOCKED by Don Davis' story about being
insulted by a Phantom member. I believe you Don, as I'm sure you would have no
reason to lie about that, but I'm going to do my best to chalk that up to one
member's grumpy mood and HOPE that it's not the attitude of the entire corps. I
know a super nice kid in Phantom's pit and she's not like that at all. I'm sorry
you had to deal with a nasty attitude like that but perhaps he'd had a really
bad show personally and he took it out on you (unfortunately). Whatta bummer!
Anyway, I missed Vanguard Cadets and Troopers (sorry, I ran out to the parking
lot to say hello to my "adopted kids" in SCV whose busses were arriving) so I
won't be commenting on those two corps. In addition, this show was on Saturday,
and now I'm back in my office in Santa Clara on Monday going solely off of a
two-day old memory. So, if I am sketchy with certain corps, it's just cuz I'm
old and my three or four remaining brain cells may have fallen out on the plane
ride back to CA.
Taiwanese HS Marching Band - Hey, these guys are much improved over the last
time I saw them......was that 1997?......and they have new unis too - BD clones
but in maroon and gold. Nice stuff! I couldn't believe it when I read that the
student body of the school is 10,000+ and that the majority of the kids in this
group have ZERO musical training upon entering the band. Wow - GREAT job Gary
Brattin et. al. for turning out a really quality program - probably one of, if
not THE best of it's kind for high schools in Asia.
Northern Lights - another good youth band from up in the Portland, OR area. I
really enjoyed seeing Channel One Suite on the field again (it's been a
while.....what, about 13 years?). Good drum line too! I found out they are also
headed up by a BD alum, Mike Anderson, and taught by several of my fellow SCV
horn alums, Kary Etherington and Brian Bailie. Nice job, this is my second (?)
viewing of this group, and I like 'em a lot!
Seattle Cascades - Tonight was the fourth time I've seen this show. Athough a
bit small in the hornline, I think the corps itself marches and plays well in
all areas. The guard is very effective and has some nice work and equipment.
Unfortunately, I just don't "get" the idea behind their Dawning of Technology
show. Overall, the corps is solid and I hope they can expand the horn line a
little for some even bigger power next year.
Allegiance Elite - I think they were doing music from Bye Bye Birdie. It was a
cute show, and I liked it. It entertained me, which is sometimes what I really
want more than anything else at a drum corps show. I have never seen this corps
Colts - WOW, I really liked these guys! Now, two days later, I just remember
that they had a cool show, great horns and drums, but unfortunately try as I may
I can't remember more specific details than those after only one viewing.
However, I do remember that I can't wait to see them again in Madison, I liked
them that much!!!
Phantom - I spent the afternoon watching them rehearse in Lakewood, so I felt
familiar enough with their show to form an opinion after seeing them in uniform
in the evening. As everyone else seems to be saying, they are good, but not
really great. They're not "vintage" Phantom. To me, it looks like there's a lot
of rookies out there - some beautiful moments but also some moments that lack
confidence in the form of some bad musical stickouts and marching problems that
one wouldn't normally see in a Phantom show in mid-July. However, I liked their
show a lot - it's not boring at all, as some have said. I hope they can continue
to improve and move up a placement or two in the standings by finals. Oh yeah,
and where some corps go for clashing colors in guard unis, I thought Phantoms
color-coordinated guard unis and flags were beautiful!
Blue Knights - THESE GUYS ARE AWESOME! I think they were my favorite corps of
the evening! They have the most unique and gorgeous flags. Drum line TOTALLY
rips (yeah Ralph!!!) and I could see these guys battling it out with a couple of
other contenders for the 6th place spot come finals. It's also nice to see how
the hometown crowd is fanatically behind them and rooting them on. I also like
the newer shade of darker grey pants......is this new? Haven't seen the corps
since about 1996, so maybe it's old. Oh well!
Cadets - I was really looking forward to seeing these guys and they did not
disappoint. I felt SO badly when those kids were falling down, down, down one by
one. I hope no one was hurt. I loved the show - it's really unique and produces
some cool sounds that I didn't hear in anyone else's show. Unfortunately, I felt
like the show went downhilll slowly from beginning to end, and does not end
nearly as exciting as it starts out. I thought they were dumped in scores
though. Three points doesn't seem right to me......maybe 1.5......but what do I
know? Hate the retreat antics though.....please lose them and line up in a
boring block like everyone else.
Blue Devils - I, like Mike Bertram, have a hard time with these guys winning
high brass. They are wonderful, but very mortal (as Mike said) and with all the
timing problems and muddy soprano licks, I couldn't believe they won that
caption! I've seen them four times now and have yet to see them do a solid
performance without phasing problems. However, the show itself is a total kick -
it's fun and exciting and much more cohesive that I initially thought in my
first two viewings of the corps. Drum line is really hot, but I'm a huge fan of
aggressive, ethnic drumming. Love that aspect of the show! However, based on the
Cadets history of coming on strong, I think they're going to end up peaking out
and ending up in third place by finals, much like last year. Only time will tell
Who is that little tiny asian girl on timpani? She KICKS ASS!!!!!!! I hope she
does I&E cuz I'm gonna be there rooting for her. For those of you who haven't
seen her, that girl can P-L-A-Y and she's maybe 4'11" and 95 pounds soaking
Vanguard - Clearly the winner tonight with a very strong performance in all
areas (horns, drums, visual, GE). They should have won high brass but what's .1
between friends, right? Oh well! If they hold it together like I know they want
to and think they can, I think they'll win number 6 come August 14......finally!
The victory concert was so loud! I cried during Clowns, first time in a long
time even as an alum. I was watching Ray Velarde again, and when he started
crying, I lost it too. Spoke to some of the SCV kids in the parking lot
afterwards. They're confident but careful so I'll keep my fingers crossed. Until
Madison, ciao for now!